The life theologic – What it means to love

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Last weekend was my brother’s wedding, and I was planning on writing a post about the wedding cake I had slaved over.  Then I realised that that post would be nothing more than an online bragging session, and that I would be cheapening the experience of what was a beautiful wedding by focusing on one of the least important aspects.  If I ever do decide to share the recipes I used, then you’ll hear all about the cakes, but it will be no great loss if you don’t.  No, there is a more important message to take from Saturday’s celebrations, and that is on the real nature of love.

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The address at the wedding spoke of the need for passion when it comes to love.  I think that this should apply to all kinds of love, not just that between a husband and wife.  Yes, there are many ways to love, and they are wonderfully varied, but without passion, can you really call them love?  If you think about the things you enjoy the most in life, the things you would claim to love, and then think about how you would respond if someone asked you to talk about them, I’m prepared to bet it would be with gusto.  You would be passionate.  It doesn’t matter if the subject matter is football or Van Gogh, you would speak with feeling and expend energy.  It would cost you something.

The same applies to the love we show each other, it should cost us something.  It should be passionate.  I’m not saying that we should act in what would be called a passionate way towards everyone.  Passion for the sake of it is pointless, just so much empty heat.  I’m not advocating for lust over love.   Passion does not equal lust.  What I am saying is that when we do something out of love, we should do it whole-heartedly and passionately, whether it be buying  coffee for a friend or getting down on one knee.

We often forget that love is both a verb and a noun, acting as though it is either just a feeling we have, something personal and private, or as if it is just something that we do for others, a string of random acts of kindness.  In reality we need to remember that it is both.  One cannot truly take place without the other.  Performing acts of kindness without passion or love is hollow, just as directing all your emotion into loving someone without putting it into action is futile.  We are told that:

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:3

This really cuts to the heart of any relationship.  If you love someone or something, then acting with passion should follow naturally.  We were set the perfect example when God, acting out of love for a broken world, gave His Son to suffer in our place.  This is the basic message of what it means to be a Christian: you have been loved, so you should love in return.  We are called to be living embodiments of God’s love in this world, and this requires us to act with some passion.  It doesn’t really matter if this manifests as serving hot meals to those in need, advocating for those who have no voice or just babysitting for a friend, what really matters is that the acts of love are performed with love.  That whatever we do, we do with our whole hearts, and that we leave behind traces of God’s love.

That’s what it really means to love; feeling an emotional connection and acting on it with passion, and that is what the wedding on Saturday was a perfect example of.

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